Farewell Lecture by Stephan Klasen

We had a great last lecture by Stephan Klasen, the driving force behind the establishment of development economics as the  main topic in the department of economics in Gottingen.

A very strong team of development economists has developed around him. It would take several pages to list all connected members but there is for example the Research Centre “Poverty, Equity and Growth in Developing Countries”, the Research Training Group “Globalization and Development” (GLAD), various chairs established at his instigation over the years, including the Chair of Behavioral Development Economics (Marcela Ibañez), at which I work, and people like Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, Holger Strulik, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Sebastian Vollmer, etc, etc, etc, etc… This is not to mention all his international contacts and the various people he collaborates with outside Göttingen. This reminds me a bit of how Jean-Jacques Laffont and Jean Tirole established industrial organization at the University of Toulouse.

Sadly enough, his forces have been declining over several years due to a degenerative disease, and he has now to retire, way prematurely (he is only in his 50s!). Again, this is similar to how Jean-Jacques Laffont prematurely died of a cancer.

I really hope that his work and achievements will be maintained and even grown by the current and future team of development economists in Gottingen.

There were many hommages to his work and personality, including two funny presentations, one by Isabel Günther, about the 7 main lessons of working with Klasen (including, you just can’t compete with Klasen :)), and then another one by young researchers here, a pastiche of a development economic paper based on a survey of people related to him, grading econometrically how increasing closeness to Klasen affected his colleagues.

As for me, the main thing that impressed me from the testimony of others were his ability to be constructive, generous and not too critical in his relations with others, and also how he chose research areas in which he had faith and that were important. I will strive to get inspiration from this.


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